New Faces, New Places: Find the clothes that are just right for you at Belong Boutique

We really want to give women a place to feel comfortable in their own skin and learn how to dress their body in a way that feels best for them, at whatever age and stage they’re at.

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New businesses and non-profit organizations open regularly and move in Saskatoon. Today, the StarPhoenix talks to Deena Simair and Abbie Ginther, co-owners of the recently opened Belong Boutique in University Heights.

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When Ginther first started as a student teacher in Simair’s high school classroom 15 years ago, little did the two know they would form a lifelong friendship, and that they would eventually both leave their profession as teachers within the past couple of years. The two of them decided to team up to help women with their fashion, selling clothes through their own online consignment shop. They also helped women with personal shopping.

Eventually, they opened their own store, Belong Lifestyle, in Martensville at the height of the pandemic last year. With their customer-centric approach, creative flair and ability to modify plans on a dime, they found themselves so successful at helping women flourish that they opened their second store, Belong Boutique, in Saskatoon this past August.

Q: Why did you decide to use “Belong” in the name of both of your stores?

AG: When we first began, the recurring theme was women of all ages and stages felt that they just didn’t feel comfortable in their own body, and that they didn’t feel comfortable when they entered a shopping establishment. They didn’t feel like it was for them. Because our message is that clothes are to fit you not you’re made to fit your clothes, we wanted every woman to feel like they belonged and that started with belonging in your own body, that starts with the feeling like you belong to a wider community of women lifting each other up.

We really want to give women a place to feel comfortable in their own skin and learn how to dress their body in a way that feels best for them, at whatever age and stage they’re at. That’s the goal. I feel like our medium is clothing but the message is belonging in your own body. And that’s what we continue to strive for.

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Deena Simair (left) and Abbie Ginther opened Belong Boutique in University Heights in August 2021. The store offers a wide selection of women’s apparel brands with virtually all sizes available. The duo’s goal is to offer a personal shopping type of experience and offer comfortable clothes meant to fit each customer, instead of the customer made to fit the clothes. Photo by Karyn Loves Noah Photography.
Deena Simair (left) and Abbie Ginther opened Belong Boutique in University Heights in August 2021. The store offers a wide selection of women’s apparel brands with virtually all sizes available. The duo’s goal is to offer a personal shopping type of experience and offer comfortable clothes meant to fit each customer, instead of the customer made to fit the clothes. Photo by Karyn Loves Noah Photography. jpg

Q: What products do you sell?

AG: We carry women’s apparel from extra small through 3XL. We do carry some things up to 5XL. We’re trying to expand all the time. The brands that we carry range from some Canadian-made and some Canadian companies all the way down to some exclusive brands that you’d only find in boutiques. We have a really good range for budgets and also for sizes and styles for women. And that’s our goal is to have something you feel comfortable in when you come to the store. All our clothing that we sell at both locations is available at our online shop as well. We also have a large consignment collection in our Martensville shop, and online.

Q: Why would someone want to shop at your store?

AG: First of all I think the answer is that we want them shopping at other ones, too. We recommend other boutiques all the time and partner with them. But I think the reason women are drawn to us and come into the store is because they know that it is going to be a welcoming environment, that the store is set up for them to feel most like themselves. For sure we will have something that fits them well in a style that they love. I mean that sounds like a big claim, but it consistently happens over and over that women tell us this is the first store they’ve come into where I have styles in my size that I like, whether that is someone who’s a medium or a 3XL. So that’s what I think draws women in.

Deena Simair: I feel like our store offers a different level of customer service than any other store. It’s very different here. You’re treated the same no matter what and given options. I almost feel like our store front workers and stylists are more like personal shoppers, which you don’t necessarily always get in every store.

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Q: I understand you offer private shopping experiences as well?

DS: That was something that we started when we had to kind of pivot what we were dealing with COVID. It was crazy how quickly it took off. It’s like every woman’s dream, is to have a store to themselves! And not feel the pressure. It’s a unique experience. And it’s been very successful. In spring to late spring, I think we had two nights that weren’t booked in a month. We opened our entire calendar. It was definitely in demand. Even now we’re kind of changing the way we do them as a host your Christmas gathering or get your family out of the house. We’re kind of going with new ways for people to see clothing stores. It doesn’t just have to be a store. It can be other things too.

Q: What do you love the most about running your own stores?

AG: I think for ourselves coming from the classroom — which is a very autonomous career, but you’re not an entrepreneur in the same sense — we have just loved the ability to reach women in an authentic way and in our own way. For example, we were one of the top three finalists for the ABEX award (from the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce) for marketing this year and we did not spend money on marketing. We did it ourselves. And we didn’t have a budget for that. That to me speaks to the power of being able to reach women in an authentic way today. That has been probably the most rewarding part of owning a store, seeing women just light up, shine in their skin and tell all their friends. And that’s the sort of authentic growth that we’ve experienced, and as well being able to just be adaptive to our customer’s needs.

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DS: I think it’s the customer feedback. When a woman comes in and is uncertain and doesn’t know what she wants and doesn’t feel good about herself and then kind of sees herself through the eyes of our stylist and then they find these beautiful pieces that look amazing on them, and all of a sudden the side effect is a snowball effect of self confidence that comes with it.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Belong Boutique

Owners:  Deena Simair and Abbie Ginther
Address: 134 — 1824 McOrmond Drive (Saskatoon); 1 — 117 Centennial Drive (Martensville)
Hours: Monday to Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Free private shopping by appointment
Email:  [email protected]
Website:  www.thebelonglifestyle.com
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/thebelonglifestyle
Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/belonglifestyle
Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.ca/belonglifestyle
TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@belonglifestyle?

Abbie Ginther (left) and Deena Simair opened Belong Boutique in University Heights in August 2021. The store offers a wide selection of women’s apparel brands with virtually all sizes available. The duo’s goal is to offer a personal shopping type of experience and offer comfortable clothes meant to fit each customer, instead of the customer made to fit the clothes. Photo by Karyn Loves Noah Photography.
Abbie Ginther (left) and Deena Simair opened Belong Boutique in University Heights in August 2021. The store offers a wide selection of women’s apparel brands with virtually all sizes available. The duo’s goal is to offer a personal shopping type of experience and offer comfortable clothes meant to fit each customer, instead of the customer made to fit the clothes. Photo by Karyn Loves Noah Photography. jpg

Have you recently started or moved a new business or non-profit organization in Saskatoon? We want to hear your story. Please email [email protected]

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